It was only a couple of buckets and a free throw but that seven minutes we saw Nick Collison spit fire up and down the court on Saturday night gave Thunder fans that resurgence feeling that had been missing for a couple of seasons.
Sure, Russell Westbrook went bananas and won an MVP last season but there’s not a lot that rivals that of a Nick Collison, perfect hair and all, setting a fundamentally sound screen while curling to the basket. It’s like Steven Adams did it but without all the hair and accent.
“A total pro. He comes ready to play every day,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “Nick keeping himself prepared and going in there he did a great job.”
You wouldn’t believe it but the Thunder were two points worse with Collison on the floor last night. His energy and his attitude made it feel like the Thunder were on the verge of pounding the Spurs out of the playoffs in an elimination game.
“I’m really happy for Nick Collison because he’s a total pro,” Donovan said. “He comes ready to play every day. Not knowing Steven’s situation, Nick keeping himself prepared and going in there he did a great job.”
Seven points in six minutes on 3-of-4 shooting, two rebounds and all of our hearts.
While Collison isn’t a player who can play formidable minutes against an Anthony Davis or even some of the lesser players like a Jonas Valanciunas, his ability to relieve the injury of Adams in key moments on the floor were huge. When Collison checked in, the Thunder led by 10 but the lead ballooned to over 20 with Collison on the floor.
“He [Collison] got his number called,” Westbrook said. “He answered like he do every time.”
At the end of it, MVP chants flowed down from Loud City like an Oklahoma summer rainstorm. The fans chants “MVP! MVP!” as Collison split the two free throws, making the one on the chants.
“Sometimes, I feel like the walk-on in college games where everybody’s yelling at him to shoot the ball, one of the kids that gets in at the end of the game in blowouts,” Collison joked.
As the bench played with a renewed vigor of seasons past, Collison led the fourth quarter charge. Other players scored and had their own impact, i.e. Jerami Grant’s 15 points and eight rebounds and Patrick Patteron’s 10 points were their own influence, it’s just seeing a fan favorite who’s old and not able to jump as high to come in and make such an impact.
“Pat and Nick, those guys did a great job of forcing to our help,” Westbrook said. “We did a good job of having their backs and making it tough for them.”
Collison may not play the rest of the season. He may get into a blowout game and just play a couple of minutes but we know the former Kansas Jayhawk will be ready.
“I’m always trying to stay ready,” Collison said. “I can tell when there might be an opportunity.”
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